Dear Tom,
What is the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?
—Jeff Vernachy, rural Rockford, Ill.
Dear Jeff,
Hurricanes and typhoons are both names for tropical cyclones that attain maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or greater. The nomenclature is based on location: In the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern Pacific Ocean east of the international dateline, such storms are called hurricanes. In the western Pacific Ocean west of the international dateline, they are called typhoons. In the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, the storm is referred to as a cyclone. In Australia, hurricanes and dust devils are referred to as willy willys. Typhoons can attain greater frequency and intensity due to the much greater expanse of warm water in the tropical Pacific.